Date Published: 28 May 2018
Essential oils used in ambulances
Use of natural products including those sometimes considered only within the realm of alternative medicine, in emergency medicine is not new. Examples of use of specific remedies vary across the world and within some metropolitan areas.
It has recently been reported that an ambulance service that serves about 2,220 square miles and 150,000 people in the La Crosse area of Wisconsin, USA is now carrying six different essential oils considered useful for the treatment of pain, nausea or anxiety. Wisconsin Public Radio (wpr.org) reported that Tri-State Ambulance is "using aromatherapy as a way to cut down on pain medication use" 1. In that article the medical direcor of Tri-State, Dr. Chris Eberlein, is quoted explaining that in the past paramedics used to give small doses of narcotics to patients for reasons due, at least in part, to the limited range of treatment options available in ambulances. He went on to explain that success with essential oils among patients in post-operative care inspired him to consider making them available for use in ambulances along with other treatment options including opioids and (conventional medicine) alternatives to opioids, such as liquid Tylenol. This increase in the range of options available to paramedics, who are highly trained professionals, must be good news for residents and visitors to the La Crosse area.
Perhaps just in case anyone had any concerns, Dr. Eberlain also stated plainly:
"We're not going to not treat your pain. If you need a narcotic, you're going to get it."
Not only is this welcome news for La Crosse but it has also been mentioned on various websites including those accessed by conventional medical professionals across a wider area. For example the article on ems1.com 2, a website whose stated purpose includes "to provide paramedics, EMTs, EMS students, and paramedic chiefs and EMS administrators with the information and resources they need to provide better patient care and serve our communities" 3 has attracted interesting comments. In addition, several news outlets have covered the story including news8000.com (La Crosse, Wisconsin), weau.com (Wisconsin) and kulr8.com (Montana and Wyoming). Other online articles have considered different aspects of offering more options to paramedics, such as the pjmedia.com article which concentrates on the benefits of reducing routes to and risks of opioid addiction whenever and wherever practically possible:
"Ambulances and hospitals do need to reconsider how easily they provide access to opioids, and immediately stop providing them when unnecessary" pjmedia.com article by Tyler O'Neil 4
There is likely to be wide agreement with that view. The seriousness of the extent of opioid abuse and the current opioid overdose crisis can be summarised by the first sentence on the (US) National Institute on Drug Abuse webpage on the subject:
"Every day, more than 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids." quoted from drugabuse.gov 5.
The opioid crisis has been mentioned on this website before, most recently in connection with the US 'National Prescription Drug Take Back Day' on 28 April 2018 - Return of unwanted prescription drugs.
This information about the use essential oils, which are generally used in aromatherapy, may be of particular interest to aromatherapists and others involved within the natural health community.